A UNC School of Government BlogNorth Carolina Criminal Law

I can’t be the only person who was surprised to learn in my first year of law school that a person who never intended to kill someone else could be convicted of first degree murder. Even an accidental killing can result in first-degree murder charges if it occurs during the commission of a dangerous felony. The defendant and his co-conspirators all are prosecuted for and convicted of first-degree murder based on the felony-murder rule. Today’s post will review the basics of North Carolina’s felony-murder rule. Next week’s post will explore recent developments regarding when the so-called merger rule may apply to bar charges of felony murder that arise from a single assault that injures and kills a single victim.